Preview: The Miami FC Opens 2017 Season On The Road

Mar 24, 2017

MATCH NOTES

MIAMI (March 24, 2017) – After a long off season, the Miami FC opens its second NASL season with a road match against North Carolina FC, Saturday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. Watch the match live on The CW South Florida and ESPN 3.

Part 2 was Better
This time last year, the Miami FC was set to take the field for the first time as a NASL franchise. Seven months and 32 matches later, the club showed that the city of Miami is ready for pro soccer.

After a slow start in the Spring Season, Head Coach Alessandro Nesta and the squad began to show flashes of things to come, making a serious playoff push at the end of the season. The Orange and Blue collected only seven points in its first 10 matches, but bounced back to earn 33 points in 22 Fall Season matches.

The teams Fall Season turnaround was powered by a high-powered offense and stellar play in the goal.

The Miami FC netted 31 goals in 22 matches, the third best mark during the Fall Season. This offensive explosion was also a true team effort as nine different players found the back of the net. Leading the pack were four players that scored four or more goals. Jaime Chávez and Ariel Martínez scored four times in the fall while, Poku and former forward Darío Cvitanich scored six times.

While the attack began to click in the Fall Season, goalkeeper Daniel Vega continued to be one of the best shot stoppers in the NASL. He posted 51 saves in the Fall Season finishing 2016 as the leagues saves-leader, turning away 106 shots on target. Vega and the Miami FC defense also posted seven shutouts in the Fall Season, including an incredible 327-minute shutout streak.

One is Enough
The Miami FC and North Carolina FC faced off three times last season with only one goal separating the two. The three clashes produced two draws, one win and seven goals.

Miami posted the club’s first-ever shutout in it’s first-ever match up with North Carolina FC. Late in the Spring Season, the Miami FC headed north to Cary, N.C. riding a four-match losing streak. Stout defense and a next-level performance from Vega kept North Carolina off the board, at a time when it was one of the hottest offenses in the league. The shutout triggered a three-match unbeaten streak that saw two more shutouts.

Round two saw the Orange and Blue back in Cary, but the match would play out completely differently than the first meeting. Both clubs came out guns blazing, scoring six total goals. The Miami FC pushed ahead early, going up 2-1 at the half. North Carolina would push back in the second half taking a lead in the 78th minute. The Miami FC did not quit, picking up an equalizer two minutes later and walking away with a point.

The third clash finally saw one team take all three points. In what looked to be another defensive deadlock would end in spectacular fashion. Cvitanich subbed in to the match in the 76th minute. Seconds later he pounced on a loose ball at the top of the North Carolina box and hit the game winner.

Players to Watch
Poku was at the center of the Miami FC’s turnaround last season. Joining the team just before the Fall Season, his physical presence and deft touch in front of the goal helped turnaround the club’s attack. He scored six goals and assisted on two other in 20 matches, but stats don’t tell the whole story on Poku.

His non-stop engine kept backlines off balance all match and allowed him to track back and support the defense when necessary. His incredible strength not only helped Poku but made everyone else around him better. Poku’s incredible ability to fend off defenders and dribble past them allowed teammates to push up and overwhelm opponents on a nightly basis.

Mason Trafford was the heart and soul of the Orange and Blue defense and acted as the initiator of the club’s attack. Building from the back was an important aspect of the Miami FC’s strategy and Trafford was at the center of it all. His 1,631 passes were an impressive league-high in 2016, especially for a center back. Not only did Trafford pass at a high volume, but also with great accuracy. He was able to complete 1,448 of his 1,631 passes last season for a staggering pass accuracy of 88.8%. As the Miami FC looks to capture a championship in 2017, Trafford’s two-way ability will be of the utmost importance.

Watch:

ESPN 3

- The CW South Florida (Local-check your cable provider)

Follow:

- Live Play-By-Play on Twitter at @TheMiamiFC

- Live Stats